The landlord struck everyone as a kindly old man, yet Viki hesitated to call him even when the water wasn’t working. This time, however, she didn’t have much choice. The power was off in the entire apartment – another disaster triggered by a blown light bulb. She was starting to consider moving to a newer building, but for the moment, she’d have to endure Mr. Benda.
As always, he rushed over immediately in response to her text message, a well-intentioned smile spread across his face. Well into his seventies, he somehow still managed to carry the ladder in and climb it to fix the light bulb, all the while chattering in a mix of English and his native language. When it became clear that, once again, it wouldn’t be possible to get the power fixed until he could call an electrician in the morning, Viki braced herself for the onslaught of kind gestures.
Mr. Benda spent the next two hours running a power cable from his apartment to hers to make sure she had outlets, searching the building for spare extension cables and power strips (while Viki discreetly tried to tidy up some of the mess all over her apartment). She tried to insist that she didn’t need to use the computer again that evening, but nevertheless he spent another fifteen minutes figuring out a way to run all the cables into her living room so she could plug everything in. As she tried to thank him and push him out the door, she saw another light bulb go off in his head, and he said he’d be right back.
Five minutes later he rushed in carrying an enormous antique lamp with what appeared to be small metal sculptures of swans decorating the sides. Viki made a halfhearted attempt at insisting that she didn’t need a lamp, and in fact had plenty of her own, but he was just so set on making sure she could see…
By the time he finally left, she was ready to go to sleep. She turned off the ugly lamp, unplugged all the cables, and climbed into bed. I really need to vacuum tomorrow, was her last thought as she drifted off into the land of dreams.